Sure enough, some of those Verizon subscribers lucky enough to submit an iPhone 4 request during the first rounds of pre-orders have had their phones shipped and delivered, well in advance of the official February 10 retail availability. Now iFixIt has taken one of these Verizon models and provided the first look at a tear-down on the revised hardware, which includes both some minor and not-so-minor changes.
On a whole, very little has changed since the AT&T premiere of the iPhone 4. Same screen, CPU, and storage options; simultaneous call-and-data issues aside, the two models are functionally identical. Inside, there are some hardware tweaks, like a repositioned vibrate motor, and a slightly lighter battery. While the new battery shaves a little over a gram off the original’s weight, it’s rated to carry the same amount of juice.
The most interesting change is also the largest: the switch to a CDMA-capable cellular radio. Were this a move to any old CDMA chip, it may not be so noteworthy, but the Qualcomm MDM6600 Apple chose is dual-mode chip capable of both CDMA and GSM, with support for HSPA+ up to 1.8 megabytes per second. While it would presumably also require a swap to a GSM-tuned antenna, there’s no practical reason why Verizon iPhones couldn’t be reprogrammed to work on AT&T’s network.
Will iPhone 5 hardware be shared between Verizon and AT&T models, save for those antenna changes? It’s certainly looking likely, and could be a major cost-saving move for Apple.